Pop Culture War: Petty Drama or Publicity Stunt?

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Kendall Dexter, Staff Writer

If you have been following recent social media posts or if you are on TikTok, you have probably heard about Olivia Rodrigo’s new song, “Driver’s License”. This song was released on January 8th of 2021. Olivia Rodrigo is a 17 year old actress and singer. She is best known for her work on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (“HSMTMTS”), “Bizaardvark”, and the movie “An American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success”. After this song was released, Olivia found herself entering a new phase of fame.

To start, Olivia’s song, “Driver’s License”, has broken countless records. First, it reached the most streams on Spotify’s Global Weekly Top 200 during the week ending January 14 with 65,873,080 streams. Not only this, but on January 11 “Drivers License” set the Spotify record for the most streams of a non-holiday tune in one day. Olivia Rodrigo is also the youngest performer to top the Hot 100 since Billie Eilish released her song “Bad Guy” in 2019. Additionally, Rodrigo became the first Asian American woman to reach #1 on Apple Music Charts. It is no question that Olivia Rodrigo has achieved endless amounts of success and transformed the music industry with the release of her new song. The lyrics are relatable to teens today and details that were left unsaid leave fans questioning the true meaning of “Driver’s License”. 

Olivia’s song has been extremely successful and praised by countless artists, but some of her lyrics have caused both confusion and drama among her fans and fellow Disney stars. A quick backstory of the song is that when Olivia wrote this song, she had just gotten her driver’s license and driven around reminiscing about a recent breakup. It all began with the lyric, “And you’re probably with that blonde girl”. This lyric was enough to get Olivia’s fans wondering who this song is directed at or written about. After looking into the rest of Rodrigo’s lyrics, fans connected this statement to Sabrina Carpenter. Over the summer of 2020 it was rumored that Sabrina Carpenter was in a relationship with Olivia Rodrigo’s “HSMTMTS” co-star, Joshua Bassett. Another important detail to note is that after “HSMTMTS” premiered on Disney Plus, fans were convinced that Joshua and Olivia were in a relationship. All of this information led fans to believe that Olivia had written “Driver’s License” about Joshua Bassett moving on to his relationship with Sabrina Carpenter. A lyric later on in the song furthered the drama, “She’s so much older than me”. This solidified, for fans, that Olivia had directed this song at Sabrina due to the age difference between them. With all of this new information, fans sent excessive amounts of hate to Sabrina Carpenter. But, this only peaked when Sabrina released her own song shortly after Olivia’s titled “Skin”.

Sabrina Carpenter’s song “Skin” appears to be a continuation of all of the rumors and drama. In her song she included a lyric, “Maybe blonde was the only rhyme”. This led fans to connect the two songs and view “Skin” as a response to “Driver’s License”. The release of “Skin” resulted in even more hate directed at Sabrina. So much so that she made a post on Instagram in an attempt to clear up the situation. Sabrina explained that she did not intend to write a diss track about the lines potentially referring to her in “Driver’s License”, but that she, “was at a tipping point” and wanted to deliver the message that “people can only get to you if you give them the power to.” She also explained, “this song isn’t calling out one single person. Some lines address a specific situation, while other lines address plenty of other experiences I have had this past year.” She then went on to tell fans not to send hate to anyone else. For a while this seemed to put an end to the drama. That was until Sabrina released the “Skin” music video. In the music video there are a few clips of Sabrina sitting on top of a car in the rain. This only escalated the situation further.

Whether these songs were written and released as a publicity stunt or whether there is an actual dispute occurring between Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter is not known for sure. Throughout the drama, Olivia Rodrigo, Sabrina Carpenter, and even Joshua Bassett all achieved success on a total of four songs released within short distance of each other. There is a great deal of drama and details which were not included in this article. If you would like to check out all of the songs and read about this love triangle yourself, you can search for “Driver’s License” by Olivia Rodrigo, “Skin” by Sabrina Carpenter, “Lie, Lie, Lie” and “Only a Matter of Time” by Joshua Bassett on any music streaming service. Who’s side are you on?